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“Bad value for what you pay” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of Xaman Ek Resort & Spa

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Xaman Ek Resort & Spa
Ranked #48 of 54 Hotels in San Pedro
Falls Church, VA
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Bad value for what you pay”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 December 2008

My husband and I booked our Dec 2008 honeymoon at Xaman Ek 6 months in advance based on great reviews from trip advisor. We were so disappointed by Xaman Ek that we left after 2 nights (we pre-paid for 4 nights) and moved to Portofino, just 10 minutes up the beach.

We got 40% discounts on our Xaman Ek rooms when we booked, but the prices were still just under $200 a night. For that much money we didn't expect 5-star luxury, but we did expect nice accommodations. We stayed in the "beach front" cabana, which was actually behind the pool, and didn't have a great view of the beach. The sheets in our rooms had stains on them and we had major mosquito problems. We didn't leave our door or windows open at all, but the first night we were there we killed at least 50 mosquitos in the room. The mosquito net was full of holes, so it didn't help at all. We told Mike about the problem and he seemed genuinely surprised and offered us a dirty old citronella candle that didn't help.

We had a terrible night of sleep and after we asked Efnar & Mike to move us to the family suite the next day (one was vacant) they did so with no problem, which we appreciated. The family suite was very spacious and mosquito-free, which was great. But I felt like we were sleeping in a hospital. Our bedroom had no windows, the ceilings were low and the decor was awful. We also had the same problems with stained sheets in this room. This would have been ok for a group of guys on a fishing trip, but it was terrible for a honeymoon.

We walked up the beach to Portofino that morning and they offered us a great deal for the remaining 2 nights. Another couple staying at Xaman Ek did the same thing the day before. Portofino was wonderful - cheaper than Xaman Ek (with the discount), very clean, friendly staff, private boat to take you to town, wonderful restaurant, beautiful rooms. I wished we would have left Xaman Ek after the first night!

We didn't try the spa at Xaman Ek, so we can't comment on that. Mike started serving dinner right before we arrived, so we ate at Xaman Ek the night we arrived. The food was pretty pricey, and the quality was pretty poor. My fish wasn't fully cooked, my salad leaves were slimy, and the vegetable side was overcooked and bland. For the almost the same price you can have an amazing meal at Portofino, Mata Chica or Rojo Lounge. We also did a snokerling trip with Steve from Xaman Ek, which was fine.

Overall the staff at Xaman Ek was friendly and they tried to make the stay nice for us. However, the place just lacks class and nice touches. I know it isn't striving to be a luxury resort, but for the prices guests pay, they definitely deserve better.

  • Liked — Good location (near other restaurants and not too far from town)
  • Disliked — Lack of charm and comfort
  • Stayed December 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank Lorgan_Travel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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54 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (2)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Tucson, AZ
Level Contributor
21 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 December 2008

I can't say enough good things about our stay at Xaman Ek Retreat and Spa, but I will give it my best shot. It really does look like a Corona commercial (white beach, crystal blue water, docks, cabanas, quiet, etc...)!

To begin, I originally found this gem of a hotel right here on TripAdvisor. When I called the facility to ask questions and book a room, Mike (the owner) answered the phone personally. He was more than helpful and was also very prompt answering subsequent emails. Effnar (facilities manager) was also very prompt and courteous when answering follow-up questions and/or confirming our reservations.

Once we arrived at the Retreat, both my husband and I commented that it was "just what we were looking for in a relaxing vacation!" Effnar and Ceasar greeted us at the dock and took our luggage to our cabana. Effnar then preceeded to take us on a short tour of the facility and explain protocol for taking drinks out of the refrigerator, etc. This was a nice touch and very helpful. Mike and the staff were very friendly, helpful and accommodating during our stay. My husband needed to be in touch with his work via email, and was pleasantly surprised to find a wireless network at the facility. Furthermore, to illustrate the friendliness of Mike and staff, we were served a traditional and scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner. I believe this service goes above and beyond for any facility and I have not experienced this elsewhere.

There were a few gliches, such as a delay in our Gold Cards and only being able to pick up the wireless network in the lobby, but who cares? It was not detrimental to our experience in the least and the staff resolved "problems" quickly, amenably and effectively.

The grounds of Xaman Ek are very well manicured and maintained. We commented regularly on the care that Mike and his staff take in order to provide a nice, clean and well-presented facility. The garden in back of the retreat is somewhat hidden, but well worth a quick evening stroll. The small beach and sand around the grounds are raked every morning and neither my husband nor I EVER noticed trash around the facility or on the beach. Please keep in mind, Belize is a developing country without the benefit of a highly sophisticated infrastructure, i.e. NO dedicated trash men or convicts to pick up debris, so you will commonly see refuse along roadsides and/or along the beach. This was NOT the case, however, at Xaman Ek. I can't stress enough the great pride Mike and his staff exhibit keeping the facilities and grounds neat and clean.

The food was delicious. Restaurant on site. Nice serving and kitchen staff. Enough said.

OK, the beach. As I stated earlier, the beach is small, but so is every beach at EVERY resort or hotel on the island. That's just the way it is. Having said this, my husband and I certainly enjoyed ourselves laying out on the beach at Xaman Ek! Again, I can't stress enough how much the staff cares for the grounds-- it was clean and well manicured (no rocks or debris!). If you are looking for miles and miles of white sandy beach, I suggest you go to Southern California and fight the milions of other people looking for the same thing. The beach at Xaman Ek was sufficient and gorgeous. Enough said.

The rooms are decorated with the minimalist look and fairly represented by Mike, his staff and the website. The accomodations, in my opinion, characterize the flavor and flair of the Caribbean and Central America very well. Again, the rooms were clean and sufficient. In fact, My husband and I appreciated no phones or TVs in the rooms as this promotes relaxation IMHO. Beautiful, fresh-cut flowers from the garden were placed on our bathroom vanity, bedside nightstand, and bathroom towels DAILY. This touch was especially nice, I must say. Our cabana also came equipped with a microwave and refrigerator. Please do not expect Ritz-like luxury accommodations once arriving at Xaman Ek. If you want a Sleep Number Bed, phones, TVs, doormen, and a jacuzzi tub, please look into staying at the Four Seasons in Costa Rica. This may be more your speed.

My husband and I are avid divers and had the pleasure of diving with Scuba Steve at the Retreat. Steve was also very pleasant and accomodating, meeting us at exactly the predetermined time and showing us some very nice dive sights. He also cared for our gear once finished. One comment about the reef: This is a very healthy reef system, with many adult/juvenile fish and animals. However, because this is the BARRIER reef for all of Ambergris Caye and other Belizean cayes, it shows the expected wear of many ions of doing its job, i.e. protecting Ambergris Caye from the Caribbean waters. The diving is still great and the animal life spectacular. Thanks Steve for "showing us a good time!"

Finally, the Spa is truly the feather in the cap of Xaman Ek. Tiffany, Shirley and "the girls" are professional and very talented. The massages were some of the best I have received (my husband agreed!). We also had our ears candled, which I also recommend. The spa itself is gorgeous and there is just something about getting a massage and facial right next to the ocean. Again, the staff was terrific! Thank you so much!

In closing, I would recommend Xaman Ek as a relaxing getaway--aptly named as a "retreat." The fact there are only five rooms make the experience at Xaman Ek relaxing, cozy and intimate. There were mosquitoes, but this is no surprise as Belize is a JUNGLE; simple solution: bring bug spray. If you want a sterile, bug-free, beach, jungle vacation, good luck finding one and Xaman Ek is not for you. If you want 24/7 blackout- drinking partying, then Xaman Ek is not for you. If you want all-day entertainment for the kids, then Xaman Ek is not for you. If you are terribly high-maintenance, then Xaman Ek is not for you. If you are looking for a charming, fun, pleasant, welcoming, restful retreat with unlimited diving and world-class spa treatments, then Xaman Ek is just for you! This was a marvelous, relaxing hotel and we will certainly be returning in the future.

  • Liked — Friendly staff, cozy atmosphere, diving, clean facilities, private beach, remote location
  • Disliked — nothing!!
  • Stayed November 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
6 Thank sfslind
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
73 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 125 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 November 2008

We just came back from 9 nights at Xaman Ek and we loved it! However, I agree with many of the comments below - you have to know what to expect.

Other than my husband and I there was only one or two other couples staying at the resort, probably due to the end of the time of the year. We felt it was like having our own cottage in the tropics.

The appeal of Xaman Ek is the peace and quiet and the natural beauty of the place. I also felt that it was very safe. Part of the natural beauty is also bugs. There are quite a few mosquitoes at dusk and dawn and sand flies can be annoying although there is usually a good breeze blowing which keeps them away during the day. I think this is just part of visiting Central America (we frankly found the bugs worse in Roatan).

We stayed in one of the casitas and really enjoyed it. It is fairly basic accommodation - there are no plush towels or fancy toiletries but we found it clean and comfortable. The air conditioning worked reasonably well and there was always hot water. Each day, Daisy would put fresh tropical flowers by the sink and by the bed. There is a nice porch with great views of the ocean where we would sit each morning and have breakfast.

Cesar keeps the gardens in beautiful shape. He also looks after the pool which is an above ground style pool but was very clean and well maintained for the duration of our stay. I would suggest that it might be good to have a couple of umbrellas at the pool as it gets direct sunlight almost all day.

The manager, Efnar was very pleasant and efficient. He looked after our needs (such as booking local flights and other transportation) promptly.

Mike had opened a restaurant just before we arrived which served breakfast and lunch. I gather he plans to serve dinner soon which would be a good idea as some nights we didn't feel like leaving the resort for dinner. We ate lunch there most days. Bessie is an excellent cook - very nice simple Belizean food including excellent tamales and chips and salsa. Mike made us a great breakfast on our last morning. There was always someone available to cook for us when we wanted.

There is really no road access to the resort so your options are to take the water taxi in to San Pedro or walk to the several dining options north and south along beach from Xaman Ek. I would recommend to Mike that he have a map of local restaurants available for guests with details of how to get there (we walked around in the dark for a while before another guest told us to walk along the beach). We ate at Portofino which was so-so. We had an excellent if rather expensive meal at Mambo (Mata Chica) and we heard from several people that the Rojo Lounge was excellent. All of these restaurants are an easy 10 minute walk from Xaman Ek.

I would strongly recommend getting the Gold Card transportation package offered by the resort. The water taxi is easy and convenient to use and the Gold Card is good value. It can be a bit of a milk run but it is a nice ride. It would be helpful as part of an information package for guests to have the water taxi schedule.

We had a couple of meals in San Pedro. I can't recommend Jambel highly enough. Delicious jerk food and jamaican curries. It is also more reasonably priced than some other places. We also had a great meal at Celi's on the beach - nice fresh seafood. I would also recommend DandE's frozen custard - it is delicious!

What really made our stay at Xaman Ek special (other than the staff mentioned above and the other guests who were great) was Scuba Steve. We spent 7 days diving with him - most days it was just my husband and myself and Steve. Steve is a very experienced divemaster and he is very customer service oriented (he described to us how he had previously managed a large dive operation). He looked after our gear for us and had it set up in the boat ready to head out in the morning. He always seemed to be thinking of ways to make our day special. I had some problems with a piece of my equipment and Steve was able to fix it for me. One of the highlights of our trip (I notice other guests said the same thing) was the fish cook out. After a morning of diving, Steve caught a variety of fish and lobster and prepared it on the beach along with roasted coconut, rum punch and tortillas. It was one of the best meals that I have had and a really fun day.

We didn't use the spa so I can't comment on it.

We will definitely return to Xaman Ek for all of the reasons above but we would not recommend it for everyone.

  • Liked — Scuba diving, quiet and staff
  • Disliked — Bugs, lack information about surrounding amenties
  • Stayed November 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank Laurski
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 November 2008

Let me start by saying that I have planned over a dozen trips with the help of trip advisor, and this is the first time I have been compelled to write a negaitive review. I was most surprised that a resort with a 5-star rating on Trip Advisor would turn out to be such a disappointment!

The trip started off on the wrong foot, and my husband and I missed our flight out of Atlanta, and had to stay there our first night. Now I didn't necessarily expect to be refunded for our night at Xaman Ek, (even though we gave them 24-hour notice and the resort was not full)...however, a token food or drink credit would have been nice for the $150 we wasted for that night...all we got was a shoulder shrug and "well, that's just the way it goes"...

The "suites" were clean, but definitely bare bones. Upon inspection of our room, we found that our refrigerator was rusty and the freezer didn't work (they swapped it out the next day). The suite was very hot, and only had window air-conditioning units in the bedrooms, so we turned them on to cool it off, but were promptly asked to turn off all but the one in the master bedroom and open the windows instead.

The beaches were a major disappointment, very narrow and filled with seaweed and trash. No lying on the beach or splashing around in crystal clear waters here! There was a real problem with mosquitos too--I got dozens of bites even with repellant on.

Fortunately, we had come here to scuba, and the diving was excellent! The divemaster (Steve?) that worked with Xaman Ek was great and would pick us up whenever we wanted (give or take an hour) each day. Very laid back, very island. We were the only divers most days, and he even caught us a lobster dinner one day! The diving was enjoyable and there was a lot of marine life to see. I was sure glad we came here to dive and not for a beach vacation!!!

All in all, we probably won't return to Ambergris Caye, (there are so many other dive spots to explore)...certainly would choose a different resort as there were many to choose from that were SO much nicer!

  • Liked — diving
  • Disliked — beaches, mosquitos
  • Stayed June 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank kdion
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Indianapolis
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 September 2008

Similar to the previous post, Xaman Ek is a wonderful place for those who enjoy this type of vacation. In reading some of the less favorable reviews, it appears those people probably shouldn't have gone in the first place. I would guess they would say virtually the same things whether they stayed at Xaman Ek or many of the other alternatives on the island.

We really enjoyed our trip. Here are some thoughts to consider....

- First off, we had to change our travel plans before arriving, and Mike went way above the call of duty by working with us to find a solution. Without getting into details, he could have very easily taken the easy way out and left us in a very uncomfortable position. I sincerely appreciate this thoughtfulness and flexibility in his approach to managing his property.

- Ambergris Caye, and Belize in general, is not a place of luxury. It's a place of natural beauty. I've travelled extensively and stayed in tremendous hotels and resorts with impeccable levels of service and luxury. Belize isn't like this as a country, and Ambergris Caye sure isn't, either. If you expect this luxury, you will be disappointed. Go to the Caymans.

- You go to Ambergris Caye to enjoy the natural beauty of the island, the sea, the reef, the nights under the stars, etc.

- Xaman Ek is not by any stretch of the imagination a luxury resort. If you're expecting this, don't go. Mike calls it a retreat, and I think that is a very appropriate name for the facility.

- Xaman Ek fit exactly what we were looking for - relaxation, no itinerary, no pressure, no stress. You can snorkel or kayak off the beach at no charge, at your leisure. You can lay in their hammocks all day, sleep all day, do whatever you like. Their gardens are impressive, and humming birds are frequent visitors.

- They'll help you arrange day trips or make recommendations for activities, and Mike made several good recommendations for restaurants.

- The rooms are basic. The beds are average, the furniture is basic. The electricity on occasion went out for the entire island (not the resort's fault by any means), and the water pressure was quite inconsistent. There wasn't much hot water during our stay, which didn't bother us at all because it was so hot outside. If any of this makes you believe you would ruin your vacation, don't go to Xaman Ek, and you're probably best off avoiding Belize in general.

- The grounds are beautiful. It's been covered. The place looks just as good as in the pictures.

- The pool is a liability, and MIke would tell you so. Apparently it came with the property when he purchased it, and I think it's fair to say that it isn't something you'll spend a lot of time in. I would hope at some time MIke replaces it with a better pool.

- Mike prepares food for breakfast and lunch. It's reasonably priced and very flavorful. We enjoyed just about everything he made. His salsa was tremendous. He doesn't carry much inventory, so on some days he didn't have certain items. Just life on the island.

- He has a fridge full of beer, Coke, Sprite, and water, and it's on an honor system. Just put the cap of the bottle in your assigned room cup, and he totals it up at the end. I commend him for having this available.

- Mike himself was a great host. My wife is pregnant and we had A/C issues with a cabana. The unit worked, but it was so hot that it just didn't cool the cabana to the level that she could take a nap during the afternoon. Mike very quickly offered to move us to a suite for a small fee and this made our stay so much more comfortable. Mike commented, and everyone should know this, that he sincerely appreciates guests who share their concerns with him. Speak up! While I felt like I was being a little picky, ultimately I'm paying for the stay and I'm the guest. If I'm going to return or recommend this to others, it's in his interest to do everything he can to make my stay enjoyable. Don't forget this when traveling. It's a service industry and they want you to enjoy yourself and return. That is exactly how I would rate Mike and his service to my wife and I.

- Steve is great for snorkel and SCUBA trips. He'll go when you want to go. Make sure to tip him. I went on a dive and it was literally just the two of us. I hate diving in big groups. This is a big plus with Xaman Ek.

- As others have said, the spa is magnificient. Tiffany does a great job with swedish massage and facials.

- If the sight of bugs (ants primarily) or crabs on the beach (especially at night) or lizards scare you, don't go to Belize.

- Buy the Gold Card ferry pass to San Pedro. It will save you money, and Mike will arrange it.

- If you hate riding in boats or small planes, don't go to Belize. Some commented that the ferry wasn't enjoyable. Yes, it's about 15 minutes to town. Yes, they make stops to pick up other people. Yes, some spray may enter the boat. Yes, they travel at full speed during the night. But you have no other choice, and if this bothers you, go elsewhere.

- Take a good amount of bug spray, and strong stuff. At night the bugs are relentless (biting flies and mosquitos outdoors). Again, just a part of life.

- Portofino gets a bad name, and I'm not sure why. Yes it's overpriced, but so is everything else. We enjoyed it and had no problems. The lobster bisque included about half of a lobster tail in big chunks. Absolutely tremendous. Mambo's is also great. But you're going to spend $100 US for a couple if you have a beer or two and an appetizer. Either accept it, go to town for dinner (and go somewhere not designed for tourists), or buy your food and make your own meals.

- We spoke with people staying at other places along the island. To sum up the general consensus - no matter where you stay, it isn't the Ritz and you won't have your own butler. The nuances that may irritate some (spotty water pressure, electricity, the rustic nature of lodgings) was virtually universal. Perhaps there are ultimate luxury lodgings near San Pedro, but I don't know of them. And whether it's between Xaman Ek and another place, just know you'll have a very similar experience. Understand where you're traveling and what you should expect.

- People have slammed their beach. A quick lesson in topography will do. The barrier reef is about 3/4 of a mile off shore. It eats up all the waves. Thus between the reef and the shore the depth is about 7 feet at the most, and it's filled with sea weed. There aren't waves (unless there's a storm off shore, as we had with Gustav), and more importantly because there are no waves the sea grasses grow along the bottom. Thus Ambergris Caye doesn't have Mexican beaches, or gulf coast Florida beaches. You don't wade out unless you're comfortable walking through sea weed and grasses. So it isn't Xaman Ek by any stretch - all of the shoreline is like this.

With that said, they rake the beach every morning and it is a beautiful place and very soft white sand. But please understand the reasons why the beaches here are nothing like the beaches of Cancun or Fort Myers. The reef makes this impossible. This is true for Xaman Ek and every single other hotel/resort/lodging on the island.

- MIke recommends buying snacks and food in town before you come out. Without question do this. He arranges for a private taxi to pick you up from the airport, and the taxi will stop for food. We went to the Super Buy. I was shocked at the prices, and it's the cheapest place on the island. Remember, they import almost everything and then it must travel to this island.

- We went to relax and do nothing. The nights were great. It was incredibly hot while we were there, and the breeze was nice during the evenings. There was no room service or high thread count sheets, no chocolates on your pillow or bar maids attending to your needs while relaxing on the beach. It's a simple lifestyle, a very slow pace, and an opportunity to unwind. Again, if this isn't what you're looking for, you may find yourself disappointed.

- Mike is in construction and he is continously improving the property. They have a recreation room with pool table, international phone, television, shelves of books and some movies. Our suite didn't have base boards yet. Not a big deal to us. The kitchen was stocked enough for the basics, and the full size fridge was a great plus for keeping water and leftovers cold.

- The locals were very friendly on the whole. No complaints.

- Pack half as many clothes as you think. Swimsuit and t shirts will suffice for literally everything, even dinner at the nicer restaurants. At Mambo's there was a guy playing pool with his shirt off as I spent $150 on dinner. Bring less.

- Bring cash and pay Mike in dollars. You'll save money.

- Rendezvous House was recommended by Mike, is owned by a Canadian couple that makes their own wine, and their food (Thai inspired) is delicious. Colleen can come across as a little rough, but go see them. Just don't get the spider crab - it's cooked in a tremendous Thai sauce, but the crab is so tedious that you'll be exhausted by the time you work it out of the small shells.

I hope I'm not only sharing our opinion, but also helping readers decide if Belize is the right place to visit, and if so if Ambergris Caye is the right place to stay, and if so, if you would be comfortable at Xaman Ek. We spent five nights there, truly loved the fact that we were off the grid, got spa treatments, read books, lounged in hammocks, relaxed and enjoyed ourselves and the beauty of this place, this island, this country. But I have zero hesitancy in saying that it is not a place for everyone. Quite frankly some of the criticisms of Xaman Ek are more the result of people going there with unreasonable expectations of the island.

  • Liked — Beautiful grounds
  • Stayed August 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
11 Thank jrh22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Southern California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 August 2008

How to describe Xaman Ek? First off, it's tiny! Overall, there are 6 units (4 suites and 2 cabanas) and the entire 12 days we stayed, there were never more than 11 guests. While this means that it's heavenly quiet and super-relaxing, it also means that there is no 24-hour coverage at the reception or any kind of structured anything. Breakfast & Lunch hours are whenever you can find Mike, the refrigerator housing the beer and sodas is on an honor system, dive and snorkel tours are when you feel like it and Steve is available (and he's usually there every day). Because of it's small size, you're very likely to meet and socialize with the other guests and we have met some very nice people during our stay (Xaman Ek tends to attract friendly, laid-back folks)...the impromptu fish fry was one of the highlights of our time there. If you like to just go with the flow, this is your kind of place...if you do best with a time table, this might not be for you.

Like the previous reviewer we initially had some issues with the room (I think we may have stayed in the same cabana). The first night, we noticed that the AC was pretty much non-existent and there was a sewage smell coming from the shower...not a good combination. To make things worse, my partner has a medical condition that gets exacerbated by heat and was a wreck that first morning. In a larger place, I would have called the front desk in the middle of night...not an option here. However, when we told Mike about our concerns the next morning, he immediately moved us into a suite. We remained there even after the problem was fixed (for a small upgrade fee) because we loved the back room that another reviewer so disliked. It had a very competent AC unit and was a welcome refuge after a day in the heat.

I received my PADI instructions at the resort and, in retrospect, should have done things a bit differently. Because we had 12 days, I figured that I'd do the entire certification on site (rather than a referral course/just the open water dive portion). What I didn't consider was that in Belize, ALL instructions take place in the ocean...there is no pool available for confined water dives. To me, this was very scary...I think I would have been better off building some confidence surrounded by safe blue tiles rather than cruising nurse sharks. But I'm now the proud owner of the Open Water card, so I guess all's well that ends well (the diving as well as snorkeling is, of course, fantastic).

Another thing to consider is the location. The idyllic remoteness and seclusion (and it IS gorgeous) of Xaman Ek comes at the price of a 6 mile island ferry ride every time you want a reasonably priced meal (the surrounding resorts are about twice as much as comparable fare in town) or get some groceries. The boat ride to and from San Pedro can be great fun, the coast line and the water is beautiful and at night the moon lights up the Carribean just so...but it can also be tedious when it stops at every single dock and/or nauseating in choppy waters. If you don't like boats or don't do well on them, again, not a good destination.

The massages at the spa are sublime, as all the reviewers have acknowledged. Enough said.

I will take Xaman Ek over an impersonally managed time share facility or a rundown former luxury resort anytime. Mike has a sincere desire to make his guests happy and takes great pride in his place. The beauty of the grounds and the area itself make up for whatever shortcomings there are, in my mind, and I definitely plan on visiting again.

  • Liked — location, beautiful grounds, laid back feel, peaceful, QUIET
  • Disliked — nothing that wasn't fixed by Mike
  • Stayed August 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank gigglypug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Atlanta, GA
Level Contributor
1 review
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 August 2008

Let me start by saying, if you are looking to lay on the beach all day and listen to the waves, then San Pedro (Ambergris Caye) may not be the place for you. Because of the barrier reef the water is calm (the waves crash at the reef which is about 1/4 of a mile out) and there is an abundance of sea grass near the shore. However, it is a BEAUTIFUL island and there is plenty of adventure.
Xaman Ek was overall, unfortunately, a disappointment. It is a nice-enough resort, but we did have some problems. We stayed in one of the cabanas, which was cute, but ...the sheets were stained, our toilet did not work properly, the shower was dirty and never properly cleaned, we were given half used shampoo (which luckily I had brought my own), the toilet paper sat on a basket on the floor, so it had been wet. When we needed supplies that should have been in our room, such as ice, drinking water, and coffee, we had to ask and they seemed very put out towards any request. So, we certainly didn't feel "pampered" or that anyone was going out of their way for us.
The breeze at night was nice, but did not reach our room, so leaving the windows open was not an option while sleeping. The AC unit in the room was inadequate so there was no comfortable sleep.
Mike, the owner serves great food for a light breakfast or lunch, but again you have to ask for it to be made and it seems as though you are interrupting their "other" tasks. It is easy enough to go into town to get a good meal. There are also several options within walking distance. My advice is to avoid Portofino, but try Mambo it is good, but a little pricey. You MUST try Rojo. We actually ate here twice during the week, it is so good! The manager waited on us and was very nice and fun to talk to. Ask him for recommendations if you cannot make up your mind! Its the best restaurant nearby.
The pool is below par. It is simply an above ground pool and is not properly pumped. In fact, one day we return from a excursion to find the pool completely drained! There was no prior notice and it was never fully filled again during our stay.
It was not all negative though! One of the best parts of Xaman Ek is the spa. My husband and I had several treatments during our stay and fully enjoyed it. Also, Scuba Steve is awesome! He is the on-site dive guide. We went snorkeling with him twice and on an all day fishing trip with him and his son. The fishing and cook out that followed was the highlight of our trip. He is a knowledgeable, laid-back, and personable guide! Another highlight was our trip to Mayan ruins. The resort books this trip through a guide company called "Tuff Enuff." This was a great group of guides, and some of the friendliest people we met during our stay. I highly recommend a trip with them!
We truly enjoyed our stay, but it was certainly a learning experience. When we return to Ambergris Caye, and we will, we will find another resort!

  • Liked — Nice spa, great excursions
  • Disliked — Room, guest services, pool
  • Stayed July 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank kpc42107
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Xaman Ek Resort & Spa

Property: Xaman Ek Resort & Spa
Address: 5.5 Miles North of San Pedro | PO Box 227, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize (Formerly Playa Blanca Beach Club)
Region: Belize > Belize Cayes > Ambergris Caye > San Pedro
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#25 Top resorts Hotel in San Pedro
#44 On the Beach Hotel in San Pedro
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Xamanek is located 5.5 miles north Ambergris Caye, Belize Central America. We are what you can describe as Paradise. Home Away from home. Our New and friendly staff and management awaits you to make your vacation a very reasonable and memorable one. We have a Spa and a Jamaica, Belize Cuisine restaurant {Jambel Jerk Pit} Our Prices are affordable and our Quality is on the high end. Book with us and you will experience what it is to be pampered. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Xaman Ek Hotel
Xaman Ek Resort & Spa Belize/San Pedro

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